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The History of the Axiom

The Axiom was created after I left Creative Images in February 1995. Though I had been using the name off and on since I started piercing. The idea behind the Axiom was simple, to not only create an open environment that offered professional body art (Body Piercings and Tattooing) but also a business that isn't afraid to educate and enlighten the public. The original crew was DaVo piercing and Terry "Casper" Kasper tattooing. We were located at our old location of 412 1/2 E 5th St. in Des Moines just a few blocks west of the State Capitol.

Thanks to the much needed help of Terry and friends with a month of renovating the studio (including new flooring and a dry wall shell) we opened on March 28th, 1995. The first piercing was a nostril piercing about 20 minutes after we opened. When the stress on Terry's personal and business life became too much, he left in June of 1995 and was replaced by Justin "Birdman" Crawford. Justin fit into the where I wanted the studio to go. Bright, passionate and above all artistically driven.

Later that summer that I took on my first apprentice Dianne Smith. At the time she was a RN at Mercy Hospital. She not only was a quick and apt student but she also taught me a great deal in regard to cross contamination prevention and other sterilization techniques. Also she had an incredible bed side manner and a way of brighten up the room the minute she entered it.

It was during this time that the music in Des Moines, that gave birth to Slipknot, began to explode and the Axiom was part of it. Many times after a night of drinking at 2nd Ave Foundry, GTs, Safari or The Love Shack, we would find ourselves in the waiting area of the studio finishing off a case of beer. It was not uncommon to find nearly every member of Slipknot and their friends packed into the studio. My close friends Lanny and Paul would often begin the night waiting for closing time and then hitting the clubs only to return to the studio for a night cap. Some night we would leave the studio until 5 or 6 am the following morning.

In October of 1995 we had our first Halloween Party and close to 100 people walked in the door at one point. It was an incredible time surfing back and forth between the studio and the local gay bar, the Blazing Saddle. It was a really crazy night to say the least. It was nice to see my clients and peers on a social level for a change.

The Darkest day the Axiom has ever seen was February 20, 1996. I was visiting a friend in Lawrence, KS that weekend and Diane was covering for me. When I called to check in on things on Tuesday, she told me that Jay had passed away. It was like time stood still. It was just so out of the blue. I never in my wildest dreams, would have thought that the Saturday before when I stayed a little late and visited with him and his mother Sandy, that it would be the last time I would see him alive. Something went missing when he left us that will never be replaced. His art, his laughter, his spirit, his passion and his joy were all gone at age 23. If you would like to learn more about Birdman go here.

It was some dark long days following Birdman leaving. I spent the next week contacting Tattooists I knew and finally asked a guy I had met the summer before to move here and take over the tattooing responsibilities. His name was Greg "Butch" Welts. He had been a number of O.C. bands like Mad Parade and Organized Crime and had picked up tattooing after a motorcycle accident. Most of the work I had seen was solid and clean. So I hired him. He also began drumming for the Have Nots, a band that I was in with Paul and Joey from Slipknot. At first Greg seemed like a gifted artist but soon the hobbies took over and his work suffered. After a short 8 months, I had to let him go and become the first piercing only studio in the state of Iowa on January 1st, 1997.

The music scene here in Des Moines has always been a big part of my life and also a part of the studio. Slipknot took many of their first press photos in the alley south of the old studio including the one with me and Greg that was inside the jewel case of their first CD.  In October of 1996 I went into the promotions business. It seemed at the time that no one was willing to do all ages shows in Des Moines. So in my own DIY style, I began doing Sunday all ages shows at Safari. This expanded when Shawn (Slipknot) bought the bar in February of 1997. In the short 8 months he owned the place we did Social Distortion, Reel Big Fish, the Pleasure Fuckers, The Humpers, Agent Orange, The US Bombs and about another couple hundred other bands. The attitude was simple, "Everyone said it couldn't be done, so let's do it." I went on to promote shows under 2 other owners including the last owners under the name Hairy Mary's. It was a great time to say the least and I'm thankful to Tony, Shawn, Jake, John, Jeff and Fathead for giving me the chance to do my thing at the club. For more info visit the Axiom Promotions page and 2307 University.  Recently as in 2015, I began working as a Talent Buyer at Lefty's Live Music.


The Studio went through a few changes in 1997 and 1998 along with my life. ON January 1st of 1998 the Axiom got out of the tattooing business. It was during this period that I also began to focus my jewelry purchases increasing quality and limiting suppliers. Also, I began to stock some fetish clothing/items and t-shirts. Of course the biggest change in my life was the birth of my son Quinn. He's the only thing that comes before the studio and is the love of my life and best friend. In the spring of 1998 the Iowa State House of Representatives passed a bill regarding Body Piercing and it was sent to the Iowa Senate. I wrote a 5 page letter to all the Studios in the State practicing Tattooing and Piercing, my state representatives, The Iowa Department of Public Health, and members of the sub-committee working of the bill. Though the law failed to pass through the Senate, I feel and have been told that my letter did help to end the passing of a bill that would have for the most part not effective.


On October 13th, 1999 I moved the Axiom in to the Skin Kitchen Tattoo. I did this for a number of reason. One being a better space and increased traffic. The other being that I greatly respect the ability of the artists there. It just made sense. It has been a joy to work with the members of the Skin Kitchen Crew. On December 2nd, 2003 we opened in our new location across the street from the old Studio. Please feel free to stop by and visits during normal business hours Tuesday through Saturday 3pm to 9pm. We are located on Douglas Ave, just west of MKL JR. PKWY on the North side in the lower level of the Southeast corner of the Plaza Lanes Building at 2607 Douglas Ave / Ste. C. You can reach me by phone through the Skin Kitchen line at 515-255-4430 or by cel at 515-966-4814.